Tuesday, 17 February 2015

ATSL: 362 days 'till next Valentine's, now what?

It is eight years plus into my very loud yet ridiculously happy right now and I still haven't forgotten my many single Februaries. I don't think I ever will - I keep learning about myself every time I have a flashback of that long stretch of single-hood. Coincidentally, my file of funny stories featuring a Serbian immigrant single mother - meant for one day when I have a legitimate stand-up routine - keeps growing. Here is one:

My old stomping ground
Danforth Avenue in Toronto is a delightfully European stretch of the famous Bloor Street into the East York. It is also the neighbourhood where my oldest son and I grew our first tiny immigrant roots, buying a red brick two-bedroom bungalow exactly two days short of our second anniversary in Canada. Thirteen became my lucky number on an extreme-cold-weather-alert weekend just before Christmas; it was the good old times before the multiple offer frenzy had become an unavoidable part of house hunting in this city. Still, I remember tossing and turning at night for the first six months wondering who would pay all this debt for the home the bank and I now jointly owned. 

Soon after relocating I also got a new job in downtown Toronto that included Greek Town. So on an insanely cold yet sunny and crisp February morning, I wore a fluffy white winter coat and a fancy pair of new sunglasses. The kind that you just have to slap on the shades to your existing prescription glasses that have built-in magnets. Needless to say, I checked myself out in the windows I passed on my way to a clinic I needed to visit. There was a spring in my step - I felt optimistic. The equivalent of the European Ski bunny (someone actually coined this term for me that winter) stared back at me. We've got this, girl! Finally.

About an hour later, elated by the great news of a successful work-related meeting, I reached into my pocket and clipped on my shades just as I was emerging onto the bustling street. Remembering that "attitude is everything" and the "fake it till you make it" mantra, I straightened up, deciding to walk, not drive, to my next appointment that was only a few blocks down the street. As I was strolling down this busy stretch of the Danforth, I noticed that a few guys looked straight at me as they passed by. Although it had been a while since I had been in the head space of noticing there was another gender that inhabited the same planet, a feeling came over me: "Alright, I guess I can handle the attention!" And this was followed by yet another crazy good interaction with a client. Woot, woot!!!

Back on the Danforth the sun was shining and I took a few deep breaths enjoying the cool relief. "This is going to be a good year" - crossed my mind, then I picked up my pace. Optimistic or not, the Canadian winter is not my favourite season.

Again, every single guy that passed looked at me. I even noticed a few double takes. Involuntarily, I reached and moved my then much shorter hair behind my ear, suddenly remembering a recent body-language study finding which claimed this was sure proof I was flirting. "Well, guess I've still got it!" - was my surprised yet delighted conclusion. With my confident cover starting to crack under the wind-chill factor of -22 C I hurried towards my car. 

Once inside, with the engine started and my music on, I self-consciously pulled down the vizor, sliding away the cover for the mirror. I was curious to see exactly what was so special about me on this particular day. The mirror light turned on and I saw my lip-glossed smile and my frost-enhanced blush. And my very cool new sunshades. But, wait - what??!! Right in between my eyes there was a shiny quarter, standing straight up, as if it was a third eye! The strong magnet of my snap-on shades must have picked it up from the inside of my pocket and I had been sporting it for as long as... the sun was shining!

I am sure that random passers-by on the Danforth must have noticed a parallel-parked dark grey Saturn VUE that was shaking as if the epicentre of an earthquake was right underneath it. That's how hard I laughed on that day that just coincidentally also happened to be Valentine's day. Valentine’s day of the year I was very, very single.

Perhaps it was the lucky Jupiter in my sign that day bringing good energy or the contagiously sunny weather paired with deceivingly blue skies, but somehow that laughter came so effortlessly. So organically. It rang true.  Way more true than an attempt to generalize and awfulize why or how embarrassing and stupid things, I truly did not deserve, seem to be happening to me.

With the price tag of twenty-five cents, this is by far the most inexpensive life lesson I've ever received: Don't take yourself so damn seriously. Life is good. Your life is good. Be the best company to your own self first and everything else will fall into place. And for me it did. 

Or perhaps it was the choice of music that blared out of the speakers when I started the car - ABBA - Dancing Queen. Be aware of the company you keep - your thoughts, your tunes and yes, even what you carry in your pockets! Now go ahead, I dare you, play this real loud and try your best to feel bad!
                                                              ABBA - Dancing Queen

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